Friday, February 23, 2018

DEP Posts 47 Pages Of Permit Actions In Feb. 24 PA Bulletin

The Department of Environmental Protection published 47 pages of public notices related to proposed and final permit and approval/ disapproval actions in the February 24 PA Bulletin - pages 1187 to 1234.
Sign Up For DEP’s eNotice: Did you know DEP can send you email notices of permit applications submitted in your community?  Notice of new technical guidance documents and regulations?  All through its eNotice system.  Click Here to sign up.

DEP To Hold March 26 Meeting/Hearing On TCE Contamination Site In Lycoming County

The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a meeting and hearing March 26 on the proposed response to TCE contamination of water supply wells in the Rose Valley Lake area of Gamble Township in Lycoming County. (PA Bulletin page 1219)
The water supply wells of six homes in the Rose Valley Lake have been contaminated by trichloroethene at levels that approach or exceed the statewide cleanup standard.
DEP is proposing and is in the process of providing water treatment systems to remove the TCE from the water supplies to ensure residents have water that meets or is below the statewide health standards for TCE.
The combined meeting and hearing will be held at the Gamble Township Community Hall, 17 Beech Valley Road, in Trout Run.  The meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. DEP staff will be available to discuss the contamination and the response during the meeting.  The hearing will start at 7:00.
Persons wishing to present comments at the hearing should register in advance by contacting Megan Lehman at 570-327-3659 or send email to: meglehman@pa.gov.
Documents related to this response are available for public review at the DEP Northcentral Regional Office, 208 West Third Street, in Williamsport. Call 570-327-3636 to set up a review of the file at this location.
The administrative record is also available at the Gamble Township Building, 17 Beech Valley Road, Trout Run, PA. Call 570-998-9483 to make an appointment with Gamble Township to review the file.

EQB Invites Comments On Proposed Changes To Storage Tank Regulations

The Environmental Quality Board published notice in the February 24 PA Bulletin of the opportunity to comment on proposed changes to regulations in Chapter 245 dealing with the Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Program. (PA Bulletin page 1101)
The proposed update to the Storage Tank regulations contain changes required by the federal Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program for Pennsylvania to keep authority to administer that program.
For underground tanks, these changes include: adding secondary containment requirements for new and replaced tanks and piping; adding operator training requirements; adding periodic operation and maintenance requirements for UST systems; removing certain deferrals; adding new release prevention and detection technologies; updating codes of practice; and making editorial and technical corrections.  
The proposal would, among other changes, shorten the in-service inspection cycle for aboveground tanks.
The last major update to the program’s regulations was 10 years ago.
There are currently about 7,100 storage tank owners with over 12,600 storage tank facilities in the state.
DEP’s Storage Tank Advisory Committee recommended the changes be presented to the EQB for action.
Comments on the proposed regulation changes are due by March 26 and can be submitted through DEP’s eComment system.  A copy of the proposed regulations are also available on the eComment page.
More background on the regulation changes is available on the Environmental Quality Board October 17, 2017 meeting webpage.

DEP Opportunity To Bid On Plugging Gas Wells, Abandoned Mine Projects

The Department of Environmental Protection published notices in the February 24 PA Bulletin announcing the opportunity to bid on projects plugging two abandoned oil and gas wells in Butler and Jefferson counties and an abandoned mine reclamation project in Butler County.
The Department of Environmental Protection has available a current list of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Acid Mine Drainage, Surface Mine Reclamation, Cleaning Out and Plugging Oil and Gas Wells, Waterways Engineering (Concrete Dams/Concrete Lined Channels, Walls and Box Culverts, etc.), Hazardous Site Remediation, Removal and Disposal of Underground Storage Tanks, and Wetland Restoration projects available for bidding.  Click Here for the list.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has a current list of bid proposals for construction projects in State Parks and State Forests available online.  Click Here for the list.

DEP Rolls Out New Chapter 105 General Permit-5 Water Obstruction, Encroachment Form, Instructions

The Department of Environmental Protection published notice in the February 24 PA Bulletin announced revised instructions and form are available for Chapter 105 Water Obstruction and Encroachment General Permit Registrations for State Programmatic General Permit-5.
The new form is required to be used starting March 26.
In general, the changes to the forms streamline and clarify the information that is required to obtain coverage under a Chapter 105 Water Obstruction and Encroachment General Permit.
The General Permit Instructions (3150-PM-BWEW-0500) have also been simplified to better explain the General Permit registration requirements.
The Fee Calculation Worksheet (3150-PM-BWEW-0553) is no longer required to be submitted for registration completeness, but can continue to be used as a reference to assist the applicant in determining the correct permit fees.
The Reporting Criteria Checklist (3150-PM-BWEW-0051) is no longer required to be submitted by the permit registrant or reviewed by the Department. The checklist will continue to serve as a useful tool.
The Aquatic Resource Impact Table (3150-PM-BWEW-0557) has been condensed by removing references to Federal impact data based on discussions with the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
This new format should expedite the Department reviews to determine if any impact area triggers a review by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal authorization.
The Bog Turtle Screening Form (3150-PM-BWEW-0550) will no longer be required because bog turtle habitat information is now available when a Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory receipt is obtained.
The new documents will be posted in DEP’s eLibrary under Waterways Engineering and Wetlands/ Water Obstructions and Encroachment and Wetlands/ General Permits.  (Note: A new DEP eLibrary site is going live sometime on February 23. Search by document number if you get lost.)
March 6 Webinar
DEP is hosting a webinar on the use of the new forms and procedures March 6 starting at 1:30.  Click Here to register.
Questions about these changes should be directed to Sidney Freyermuth, Chief, Water Obstruction and Encroachments, Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands at 717-772-5977 or send email to: sfreyermut@pa.gov.

Budget Hearing: DCNR To Release Monitoring Report On State Forest Drilling By Early Summer

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Thursday told the House Appropriations Committee her agency will release its next report documenting the environmental impacts of drilling on state forest land by early summer.
The first report released in April 2014 by the Corbett Administration, documented impacts to infrastructure, flora, forest health, invasive species, water, soil, air, incidents, fauna, recreation, community engagement, timber, energy, revenue and forest landscapes from drilling starting in 2008 through 2012.  The reports are being done every five years.
Secretary Dunn said while Gov. Wolf’s moratorium on new natural gas drilling is still in effect, the build out of well pads and the infrastructure to support the existing drilling leases continues.
She noted the new report will show the build out of 30 to 40 percent of the drilling leases, but much of the development since the last report has been ancillary structures like pipelines and compressor stations.
The 2014 report found 1,486 acres of state forest land was converted to facilitate gas development over the 385,400 acres of land leased for natural gas drilling.  All the drilling leases were signed before 2011 in the Rendell Administration.
DCNR also noted in the 2014 report that even with shale gas development, state forests retained the Forest Stewardship Council sustainable forest certification.  State forests maintain that certification today.
Secretary Dunn said there have been 653 wells drilled on the state forest leases and DCNR is collecting royalties from the 633 producing wells.  This year they expect revenues of $80 million from the leases and next year about $79 million.
The revenue is deposited in DCNR’s Oil and Gas Lease Fund, but is used to pay for state park and state forest operations or transferred to other funds to use for other purposes.
DCNR works with a Natural Gas Advisory Committee on the report and other issues related to drilling on state forest lands.  For more information, visit DCNR’s Natural Gas Management webpage.
Click Here for a copy of Secretary Dunn’s written budget testimony.
Questions from House members at the hearing brought up familiar issues, duplicating most of the questions asked at last year’s budget hearing.  Here are some issues not brought up last year--
-- DCNR Special Funds: In response to a question from Rep. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), Minority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Dunn explained special funds like the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund and the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund do not have unused monies in them.  Fund monies are attached to projects as they are approved and need to be reserved to pay the costs of those projects.  Many projects, she said, are completed over 3 or 4 years, but the money needs to be there when they are.  Taking money out of these special funds is taking money away from these projects.  She noted a recent Independent Fiscal Office report confirmed the way these monies are handled and noted there are no unused monies in those funds. (Click Here for more on this issue.) Dunn said DCNR will soon open a new portal for grantees to improve communications with the department and to better track grant completion progress.
-- General Fund Increase: Rep. Lee James (R-Butler) questioned why there was a significant increase in General Fund money proposed in the budget. Dunn explained less money was being transferred from the Oil and Gas Fund to pay DCNR’s operating expenses and that money is being made up by an increase in General Fund money.
-- Submerged Land Agreements: Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) asked why DCNR was still signing submerged land leases with pipeline and gas drilling companies when the Governor’s moratorium on natural gas leasing was in place.  Dunn explained the leases were not for production, but, for example, allowing a drilling company to drill under a stream bed to connect to a lease the company owns on the other side of the stream.
-- How Do DCNR Grants Generate Jobs: Rep. Maria Donatucci (D-Delaware) asked if DCNR calculated how many jobs DCNR grants generate.  Lauren Imgrund, DCNR Deputy Secretary for Conservation and Technical Services, said DCNR has invested over $350 million in 2,300 projects that have resulted in $700 million of economic impact in those communities.  With respect to local parks, a National Recreation and Park Association report found the 6,000 local parks in Pennsylvania generated $1.6 billion in economic impact from capital expenditures and supported 12,500 jobs.  The Heritage Areas Program investments have resulted in $2.3 billion in economic value added supporting 25,000 jobs.  (Click Here for more on economic impacts.)
-- Efficiency Savings: Asked by Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R-Bucks) for examples of where DCNR has improved efficiencies, Dunn said their Go-Time and sustainability initiatives, which includes building LEED certified buildings, purchasing electric vehicles and other measures are reducing operating costs.  As an example, DCNR Deputy Secretary for Administration Michael Walsh said through guaranteed energy savings contracts, DCNR has invested $5.5 million and will save $7.5 million in energy costs.
Responding to another member’s question, Dunn said DCNR is part of a cluster of agencies-- DEP, Agriculture, Milk Marketing Board and the Environmental Hearing Board-- that now share human resources and information technology services.
-- Entry/Parking Fees: Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon) suggested perhaps a parking or entrance fee, particularly for out-of-state residents, would help DCNR offset some of its costs.  Dunn said DCNR has embraced the model of having no entrance fee so parks and forests are more available to all residents of the state.  She noted DCNR-owned recreational facilities act as magnets for visitors and provide the local economy with significant benefits.  Dunn said in talking to other states, the experience has been the number of visitors drops off when fees are introduced.  She said there are more practical issues with an entrance fee and gave the example of Pymatuning State Park in Mercer County that has 27 different roads going through it.
-- Volunteers Are Critical: Rep. Keith Greiner (R-Lancaster) asked if DCNR engages volunteers to help state parks in any way.  Dunn said DCNR could not do its job without volunteers.  John Norbeck, DCNR Deputy Secretary for Parks and Forestry, said volunteers from the PA Parks and Forests Foundation and local “Friends” groups contribute over $3 million a year in service to parks and forests.  DCNR also has its own Conservation Volunteer Program helping state parks and forests in a variety of ways.  Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), Majority Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, invited Dunn to develop an article legislators could use in their newsletters to tell their constituents about the volunteer opportunities.
-- Spotted Lanternfly: In response to a question from Rep. Susan Helm (R-Dauphin) about the spotted lanternfly, Dunn said DCNR is working closely with the Department of Agriculture on the issue.  This year, she said, DCNR transferred $340,000 from the Environmental Stewardship Fund to Agriculture to help in their efforts, in addition to providing technical and research support through DCNR’s Forest Pest Division.  She noted this is just one of the forest pests DCNR deals with, the others being the emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and woolly adelgid.
-- Gypsy Moths: Prompted by a question from Rep. Mike Carroll (D-Lackawanna), Minority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, John Norbeck said the gypsy moth population should be declining this year, but DCNR staff is now making an assessment of the population and will have a better idea of the threat later this spring.  Dunn noted $2 million from the Environmental Stewardship (Growing Greener) Fund is used to spray for gypsy moths.
Click Here for a copy of Secretary Dunn’s budget testimony.
Click Here for copies of testimony and video of House Appropriations Committee budget hearings and the complete hearing schedule.
Next Budget Hearings
-- February 26-- House: 10:00- Department of Environmental Protection; 3:00- Department of Agriculture
-- February 26-- Senate: 3:00- Department of Transportation
-- February 28-- Senate: 1:00- Department of Agriculture; 3:00- Department of Conservation & Natural Resources
-- March 1-- Senate: 3:00- Department of Environmental Protection
-- March 8-- House: 10:00- Governor’s Budget Secretary
-- March 8-- Senate: 1:00- Governor’s Budget Secretary
All House budget hearings will be held in Room 140 of the Main Capitol in Harrisburg.  Click Here to watch the hearing online.  Click Here for the full House budget hearing schedule.
All Senate budget hearings will be in Hearing Room 1, North Office Building.  Hearings are typically webcast on the Senate Republican website.  Click Here for the full Senate budget hearing schedule.
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Budget Testimony By DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, Celebrating 125 Years Of The State Park System

Below is the budget testimony submitted by DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees--
Thank you for this opportunity to discuss the budget for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
If you pay attention to trends, you’ll note that businesses wanting to grow and companies looking to locate pay increasingly close attention to quality of life issues. Skilled workers and business owners want to live in communities:
-- With parks where families can play;
-- That are walkable and bikeable with diverse recreational
opportunities;
-- That offer clean water and are sustainable; and
-- That integrate quality of life with economic development.
The governor’s Amazon in PA website notes our state boasts an ideal blend of thriving cities, walkable urbanscapes, and charming small towns with plenty of rugged woodlands and lush countryside to explore off the beaten path – including 121 beautiful state parks.
These are the amenities that DCNR and its partners provide to Pennsylvanians that both support our recreational and tourism economy through a revitalized park and forest system, and ensure that we are conserving our natural resources, protecting our people, and the environment.
DCNR’s proposed total budget of about $392 million provides funding for our current level of operations, maintains current complement levels, and provides us with the funding we need to continue to make Pennsylvania an attractive place to live, work, and do business.
In his budget address, Governor Wolf emphasized a focus on an ambitious plan to ensure Pennsylvania’s workforce has the skills and education to succeed in 21st century jobs.
One of the best examples of the Administration’s commitment to workforce development and skills training is DCNR’s youth conservation corps.
This program offers work experience, job training, and educational opportunities to young people who complete recreation and conservation projects, mostly on Pennsylvania’s lands. It helps them get real world experience on active work projects, and helps them gain skills that will make them more attractive and productive job candidates.
The Outdoors Corps looks to ignite a love of the outdoors and a passion for conservation of natural places in young people, who because of screen time and school schedules are increasingly disconnected from Pennsylvania’s natural and cultural heritage.
Makiah Cintron, who participated in the Wilkes-Barre Outdoor Corps crew last year said . . . “For me as a person, I think I developed a really good work ethic and positive attitude when working with others. I definitely see a different side to myself when I am working outdoors.”
This youth engagement program is among six strategic initiatives DCNR is focusing on [youth, recreation, forest consideration, climate, water and sustainability]. These agency-wide efforts include practices that are--
-- Responding to and lessening the impacts of climate change;
-- Putting acres of trees in the ground along streams to improve the quality of our water;
-- Conserving forest lands and promoting forest product jobs including efforts to address worker’s comp challenges for loggers; and
-- Continuing leadership on green practices, including installing chargers for electric vehicles in state parks.
Governor Wolf’s budget proposal helps us continue and expand these crucial initiatives, while also keeping our focus on cost savings and efficiencies.
DCNR has ongoing projects aimed at reducing costs and increasing efficiency in operations including Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA) projects that will begin this spring, which will save hundreds of thousands on energy bills while providing significant upgrades to our infrastructure.
Through these efforts, DCNR is continuing to demonstrate that we are a good steward of the commonwealth’s resources, and are using the resources we do get effectively to improve the quality of life of every Pennsylvanian.
One hundred and twenty-five years ago this summer, Pennsylvania dedicated its first state park at Valley Forge, now in the national park system. [Click Here for more on the history of state parks.]
Around the same time the Pennsylvania Forestry Commission was being formed, with an excerpt from the Forestry Association’s publication noting . . . “the preservation of extensive woodland areas is one of the most important duties the citizen owes to the future.”
We at DCNR take great pride in our conservation history, and draw on it to guide our work as we respond to today’s natural resource and environmental opportunities and challenges.
We look forward to working with you in the coming year to uphold the rights to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment guaranteed by our Constitution for all Pennsylvanians.
For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
(Photo: Secretary Dunn with members of the PA Outdoor Corps.)
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